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Allen succeeds despite adversity off the court

03/20/2014, 12:12am EDT
By DONALD EMMONS BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Allen

Bowsher senior Nate Allen plays basketball with basically one real thought in mind.

And it’s about more than winning games.

It’s more about winning over his mom’s heart and providing reasons for her to smile and laugh during a period in their lives when they've dealt too much sorrow and pain.

Allen’s oldest brother, Quincy, was recently sentenced to life in prison on a murder charge, and his brother, Deonta, was shot and killed in October, 2012.

The basketball court has served as a place to provide some relief and comfort.

“I just like to see my mom happy,” said Allen, who is the youngest of Lashasha’s three boys. “Anything that makes my mom smile. I’ll just do whatever it takes to see her happy every day.

“She wanted me to go to school and play basketball, and that’s what I’m doing and will keep on doing.”

Allen and the Rebels provided Bowsher followers with plenty to cheer about as they claimed City League and district championships, and they reached the Division I regional semifinals for the first time in school history.

The 6-foot-4 guard-forward who led the Rebels in scoring with 21.2 points per game is The Blade’s boys basketball player of the year.

He shot 34 percent from 3-point range, knocking down 71 of 211 attempts. He also ranked second on the team in rebounding with an 8.1 average.

Allen, a four-year starter, finished his career with 1,243 points.

“I think it was a great season,” Allen said. “We broke a lot of Bowsher records. We did a lot of stuff Bowsher never did. We’ll be known in history.”

The 24-3 record was best in school history. Allen was right in the middle of the high-scoring, fast-break style of play for coach Joe Guerrero.

Allen, who had the size to play close to the basket as well as shoot from the outside, led the game plan.

“Nate is the true leader of our team,” Guerrero said. “The other players look up to him and listen to what he has to say. I think that is very rare for a high school student.”

The Rebels scored 100 or more points in eight games, including a 124-53 victory against Fairport Harbor Harding.

Bowsher was bounced out in the regional semifinal with a 66-50 loss to Mansfield Senior. With his high school career finished he’s looking ahead to playing at North Carolina Central University, a Division I program in Durham.

He signed in October before the season began, even after Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Bethune-Cookman had shown interest. He said it was the family atmosphere that had him — and mom — convinced that it was the best fit for him. He wants to pursue a degree in sports management or sports medicine.

Allen has excelled despite dealing with family tragedies. The basketball court has served as a place to provide some relief and comfort.

“When I play basketball it takes my mind away from everything, and I just feel comfortable with it,” Allen said. “It’s a feeling that let’s me know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Allen credits Guerrero and former Bowsher assistant coach Keith Diebler with assisting him along the way.

“It’s been a great relationship,” Allen said regarding the last four years with Guerrero. “I look up to him like a father figure because he’s been there for me since my freshman year.

“He’s helped me out a lot with school and basketball, and he just wanted me to keep getting better.”

Allen developed his outside shooting touch by taking advice to improve his shooting mechanics from his cousin, Bobby Allen, and Diebler.

Diebler is now the coach at Genoa. His son, Jon, was an Ohio State standout.

“In my freshman year, when coach Diebler got here, he’d work out with me and he’d tell me I could be just as good as his son if I keep working hard,” Allen said. “It was an eye-opener for him to tell me that he could see potential in me that I didn’t see.”

When Allen goes to North Carolina Central, his mother is also relocating there to watch him play.

He has bittersweet thoughts about leaving Toledo.

“The bad part [about Toledo] is I don’t like all of the gang activity and stuff that goes on around here,” he said.

“I think it’s better for me and my mom to go there, so she doesn’t have to worry through the night when I’m not at home.”

Now he can just focus on books and basketball.

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